Olympian Sunette Viljoen returns to cricket after 19 years gap as she signs with Titans

Sunette Viljoen of South Africa © Getty Images

South African Olympian Sunette Viljoen has announced her return to cricket at the age of 38. Having represented Proteas between 2000 and 2002, Viljoen has gone on to win silver medal in javelin throw at the Rio 2016 games as well as two commonwealth gold medals (2006 and 2010). She has joined the Titans set-up, with an aim to represent her country in cricket once again. 

Her return to the sport has been welcomed by Titans, given her stature in South African sporting history. She made her debut for Proteas in 2000 as an allrounder at the age of just 17 years and ten days. At the time, she was the youngest woman to represent her country in the sport, a record which has been broken since. 

Viljoen was then part of the squad which made it to the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup 2000 in New Zealand. She had two notable performances during the tournament as well, a 54 not out against England and a spell of 3 for 27 against Ireland, both in wins. Her career as a cricketer lasted till India’s tour of South Africa in 2002, where she played her only Test. She has represented South Africa in 17 ODIs.

Once an allrounder, Viljoen now recognises her more as a batter. “When I started off my career, I was more of a bowler. But as the years went by and I matured more, I became more of a batter. My hand-eye coordination is very good, which is something I am very proud of,” Viljoen said on her return. 

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The former Olympian also expressed how she expects to add something to the Titans team. “I hope I will really make a difference in the team. I have a lot of energy, so I think the energy that I bring can rub off on them. I strive only for perfection. And I hope my work ethic that I put in will make a difference, to show them that you can really reach the top if you put in the hard work. I think nothing in life comes easy,” she added. 

Having represented South Africa at a very young age, Viljoen also said that she would want to go and play for her country once again. With her being already an established sportsperson, she hopes to inspire people with her journey. 

“That is my dream to play for South Africa and to put on the Proteas shirt. I really hope I can stay fit and healthy and bring something for South Africa on the cricket field as I have done on the athletics field. I want to inspire the upcoming generations and just make a difference in everyone’s life,” Viljoen concluded. 

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